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13 fail-safe icebreakers to use in class today

13 fail-safe icebreakers to use in class today

It doesn’t matter whether students have started studying together, or whether they have known each other for years, there’s never a bad time to do an activity which strengthens the bonds between them.

An inclusive and communicative classroom environment is one where students are comfortable in each other’s presence. That means they not only need to know the details about their lives, but also know and respect their beliefs, individual preferences and interests. Icebreaker activities are a great way to foster this kind of environment.

Here are 12 engaging icebreakers which you might want to try:

1. Two Truths and a Lie

A twist on the commonly used icebreaker is where the truths and lie must relate to a topic that has recently been studied in class. Have students share two true statements and one fictional statement about themselves. Students must guess which statement is the teacher’s playful invention. It’s a delightful way to introduce the teacher’s personality.

2. Emoji Introductions

The teacher selects an emoji that represents their mood or teaching style. They explain why they chose that emoji. It’s a fun way to break the ice and set a positive tone. Then get students to do the same.

3. Open-Ended Interview

Pair students together. Students take it in turns to ask three interview questions to each other, but they’re only allowed to ask open-ended questions. The questions should follow on from each other, so that students get to know a lot about each other.

4. Sentence Starters

Write some sentence starter prompts onto the board (e.g., “My greatest achievement was…” or “I’m passionate about…”). Have students mingle and share their stories and experiences.

5. Cultural Exchange

This works best in classes where students come from a range of cultural backgrounds. Have students share an item or story related to their culture or travels. It’s an opportunity for students to learn about each other’s background and interests.

6. Word Association Chain

The teacher starts with a word (e.g., “learning”). Students take turns adding related words. It’s a vocabulary-building exercise with a twist.

7. Guess the Teacher’s Favourite Place

Show pictures of various locations (e.g., a bustling city, a serene beach, a snowy mountain). Then give students one fact about you. Students guess which place the teacher loves most, based on the information they have about you.

8. Teacher’s Quickfire Round

The teacher answers rapid-fire questions from students (e.g., “Favourite colour?” or “Best teaching tip?”). It’s a light hearted way to reveal your personality.

9. Collaborative Storytelling with a Twist

The teacher starts a story, and students take turns adding sentences. The catch: Each sentence must include a new vocabulary word.

10. Map Exploration: Teacher’s Travels

The teacher marks places they've visited on a world map. Students ask about those destinations and share their own travel dreams.

11. “Would You Rather?”

Pose fun dilemmas to the class (e.g., "Would you rather teach underwater or in outer space?"). have students explain their answers to each other.

12. Scavenger Hunt

Create a list of types of item (e.g., "something red," "something boring"). Students explore the classroom and find objects matching these characteristics. Then have them do their best to describe the objects and the feelings, emotions and memories that are associated with them.

13. Lucky Dip You

Have students write three facts about themselves on pieces of paper and then have them scrunch up their papers and put them all in a basket. Then ask students to take a random piece of paper out of the basket, read it and guess who might have written it. Have them explain the reasons for their guesses, based on what they already know about their classmates.

Icebreakers are powerful tools for forming connections in the classroom, whether it’s the first day of class or mid-semester.

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